One of my pet peeves is the comment, often heard in Sunday School, that “the Lord has not asked us to live the law of consecration.” Those who have been to the temple should know better. The more pressing question for me is how to implement this relatively simple law. This seems to be the current topic of conversation under the Material Prosperity thread below, which, like the Eveready Bunny, just keeps on going. In this post, I want to propose a practical way of thinking about consecration.
But first, some background. Perhaps I was a little severe with my fellow congregants who proclaim that “the Lord has not asked us to live the law of consecration.” After all, the following comes from the Gospel Doctrine teacher’s manual for the Doctrine & Covenants:
Explain that the fulness of the law of consecration has been lived only at certain times as commanded by the Lord. Some of the early Saints attempted to live the law for periods of time in Ohio, Missouri, and Utah. However, the Church as a whole failed to live it, and the Lord suspended it. At some future time He will ask us to live the fulness of the law.
This is a little confusing, but the manual seems to be suggesting that the United Order was an attempt to live the “fulness of the law of consecration.” The implication is that some “lesser” law of consecration might still be in effect. While I am not sure I like the jargon, I get the drift. My view is that this “lesser law of consecration” is simply the law of consecration without centralized administration. It is, if you will, a personal law of consecration, rather than a collective expectation.
So, what does this “lesser law of consecration” demand of us. Here is some discussion fodder from Bruce R. McConkie: “The law of consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church; such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth.” This is the usual response that I hear when I raise this question in church. The inference usually drawn is that we don’t actually have to share all of “our time, our talents, and our money and property” until we are asked. At the moment, the reasoning goes, we are asked to share some of our time, a few of our talents, and 10% of our income (plus occasional offerings). The residual is ours to keep.
Can this be right? Again, the covenant that I made in the temple includes no such limitations. But McConkie’s statement contains the seeds of a useful method of thinking about the law of consecration. In my view, we are obliged to use all of our time, talents, money, and property to further the Lord’s interests on earth. Period.
Every minute and every dollar should be consecrated to the Lord’s work, which includes raising our families, doing missionary work (by word and by deed), offering productive labor at the workplace, etc. Every aspect of our lives is relevant to our eternal salvation, and every aspect should be pointed in the same direction. This is the essence of an integrated life. The law of consecration should cause us to purge selfishness from our souls — no more “mine” and “His,” but all His. And in the great paradox expressed by Jesus, when we lose ourselves in this way, we gain eternal life. (Mark 8:35)
i had a nice argument with my friend saturday night about this very thing. he gave me the same response word for word that you quoted. he also added the popular myth “the prophet said not to worry about consecration and just to focus on tithing and fasting.” when asked for a reference, the common reply came “all the prophets have said it.” of course, my disbelief in these statements proved that i don’t believe in the prophets ;)
one of the big myth’s in the church is that in order to live the law of consecration, a large group of individual must live it by some sort of social contract. i think the most practical way to live it was taught by king benjamin. basically, to give to the poor. as an in debt college student, probably the greatest joy i felt this christmas season was buying some books at barnes and noble for underpriviledged children.
I have a few interpretational points re: the BRM quote. Interp experts like Gordon, Nate, et al. I hope will correct me.
“The law of consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church; such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth.”
1. “the Church”. While the LDS Church is largely synonymous with the Kingdom of God; I think there is some room for difference, and my consecration is for the Kingdom.
2. “be available to the extent they are needed”. where do people get the idea that ‘need’ will be defined by the Church? Sounds like practical, yet “slothful,” reasoning to me. Our “x” is to be available…not necessarily commanded. So…I think “available” and “extent” are the key words here.
3. I would agree with Matt’s interpretation re: Pride, and how we should be just as interested in helping our neighbors, the poor, etc. as ‘ourselves,’ with nicer ‘things’, educational opps, etc. To this “extent,” we should be pro-actively engaged in fulfilling our covenants.
4. However, an argument could be made that to keep our resources ‘available’ when/if they are officially/formally called upon by Church leaders, we should be conserving and magnifying our ‘time/talents/money’ etc. so that we will be in a better position to contribute all when asked. Not that this excuses not giving while we are accumulating.
5. Gordon’s view on how everything we do should be aimed towards building the Kingdom I think is right on track. Without splitting hairs, like whether it isn’t consecration to spend money on a date with your spouse (or a woman you are dating for single folks like me), take the parable of the talents, the widows mite, actively engaged vs. slothful servant, the covenant, and personal prayer and following Church counsel and I think that there are various ways that individuals will/can build the kingdom within “celestial” standard deviations. Most members are probably within the first deviation, i.e. give 10% tithe, give fast, give some % of discretionary resources for charitable causes etc. Others may have “progressed” beyond this, to where they are giving to the point where it hurts, or have their increased discretionary resources by reducing their “needs”/fighting pride, etc.
6. Without saying where I am/others are, I like Gordon’s idea of finding a ‘practical’ way to consecrate ourselves. I think we are doing that even simply by sharing our thoughts on this blog…seeking to share and learn. However, let’s focus on the first 1 or 2 standard deviations, i.e. where 95% of us are, and not deal with the “outliers.” Let Coveys, Youngs, and Huntsman’s deal with themselves. I’m more interested in finding ways that will motivate me and others to progress up from these initial deviations from the lowest common denominator towards increased discipleship.